If there's one thing to love most about Saturday brunches, it's the equal chance we have of curing Friday night's hangover and potentially creating another one. After all, there's all of Sunday to mop up the mess of those two days.
It is with this forward-thinking mindset that we chose Nickel Taphouse (1604 Kelly Ave.,  869-6240, nickeltaphouse.com), renowned for its expansive beer selection, to kick off one of the warmer spring Saturdays we've seen so far this year. (Full disclosure, we were also nudged by the promise of trying complimentary brews with visitors from Evolution Brewing Company.)
Despite the promise of free brews, we started with mimosas that run the same price as the customizable bloody marys—$9 for one, $18 for as many as you care to imbibe. It's hard to mess up a mimosa, and thankfully these were a right-on rendition of the fruity and bubbly easy-to-drink brunch staple.
After the customary mimosa start to the meal, we were in full beer-brunch mode, sampling plenty of Evolution's promised brews. Sprung, a light ale with its hibiscus, honey, and chamomile was a prime pairing for many of our rich and savory brunch choices, but another local favorite emerged in the Jailbreak White Russian ($7), a unique coffee cream ale that weighs in at a reasonable 5.5 percent ABV.
Nickel Taphouse's menu is fairly expansive, from raw-bar options like large oysters, salmon tartare, and lobster ceviche to stews, sandwiches, and a quality selection of breakfast-y options. There are even "snacks" (brunch's answer to appetizers) and plenty of sides. Though we all wound up getting main dishes that incorporated eggs, we couldn't help but order, well, eggs from the snack menu as a starter, because, well, deviled eggs ($4.50).
There was a passionate discussion at the table regarding the said retro-now-found-everywhere appetizer. These deviled eggs met expectations immediately upon arrival. The firm white cradled a creamy and subtly tangy yolk filling dotted with a slightly sweet tomato jam we all wished for more of. The temperature was perfect too, closer to room temp than the typically crazy-cold ones we've had elsewhere.
Buffalo Brussels sprouts ($8.50) were equally winning, swimming in vinegary spiciness alongside a creamy, cooling blue-cheese sauce. Biscuits with sausage gravy ($6) were a hit for some and a miss for others at the table, but the presentation was gorgeous, with earthy warm brown biscuits covered with (not enough) thinner-than-typical, yet-still-delicious sausage gravy and sprinkled with scallions that added some color. Traditionalists may not love the dish, but I'd soak up last night's suds with it every Saturday (or Sunday) given the chance.
The surprising loser of the snacks/sides was the maple-glazed bacon ($5). Yes, bacon. The bacon itself was actually cooked to a desirable level of crispiness, but the presentation was lacking in the pile of various small broken-up pieces on the plate and there was no maple flavor discernible by anyone at the table. It wasn't bad by any means—it was, after all, bacon. But let's be honest: There's bacon, and then there's maple-glazed bacon.
As for mains, the eggs benedict ($13) was as good as any rendition we've had, with plenty of creamy, lemony hollandaise over two beautiful ovoids of egg that oozed yellow yolky goodness onto crispy pork-roll slices (a welcome departure from the typical diner-style glossy Canadian bacon) and the thin buttery rounds of bread beneath them. That said, we couldn't help but covet our neighbor table's plate of a decadently elevated take on the dish, Steve's Tower of Babel ($12), which perched the same-style egg atop a mountain of sausage, bacon, shrimp, cheddar, and onion on toasted brioche, drizzled with the hollandaise as well. Next time.
Huevos enchiladas ($11) got points for their tasty interior mash-up of scrambled eggs, cheddar, and refried beans, and the salsas verde and rojo (a "Christmas-style” presentation on top) were enjoyable, but the uneven ratio of excessive flour tortilla to egg mixture was slightly disappointing (which could possibly serve as a compliment to the preparation of the eggs). Served in a cast-iron skillet, braised beef and smoked cheddar hash ($14) was easy on the eyes, and sported appropriately runny eggs and crispy potatoes, but the beef lacked the depth of flavor that each of the diners who ordered it had hoped for. All around the table there was a wish that the kitchen had a heavier hand with the salt shaker.
We had yet another moment of brunch envy when we laid eyes upon the extraordinarily decadent Elvis flapjacks ($10) headed to another table. A huge portion of fluffy banana pancakes with a peanut butter-caramel syrup, this dish gave us yet another reason to put Nickel Taphouse on the agenda for future brunches.
There may have been a few missteps in execution on the brunch at Nickel Taphouse, but when we emerged back into daylight pleasantly full of many eggs and a bit of hops, we felt it fairly safe to say we'd have no reservations about returning.